The conversation about affordable housing along the Beltline has now moved to city hall, as Atlanta city council members propose three new ordinances to address the issue.
Councilman Andre Dickens introduced the proposals at the October 17 city council meeting.
“The BeltLine must be a place of choice, equity and opportunity,” Dickens wrote in an email. “We want to make sure our diverse population can benefit from this world-class development. Working together, these ordinances aim to create affordable housing, preserve affordable housing and prevent displacement.”
Dickens, along with the Community Development and Human Resources of the Atlanta City Council will a hold a public work session this week to discuss the proposed legislation. Staff from Department of Planning and Community Development, Invest Atlanta, and Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. will provide information during the meeting.
The meeting is at 3 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall in Committee Room 1 at 55 Trinity Avenue, S.W.
The primary ordinance establishes an inclusionary housing requirement for new rental developments, with the goal to improve housing opportunities for working individuals and families along the Beltline, according to Dickens.
New rental developments with at least 5 units will be required to set aside a certain percentage of new rental units for affordable workforce housing.
Under the ordinance, new rental developments will be required to actively market at least 15 percent of their units to households with an income at or below 80 percent of the Area Median Income. According to HUD, the AMI is $37,700 for a 4-person household in Fulton County.
Additionally, 10 percent of all new rental units will have to be actively marketed to households at or below 60 percent of the AMI. Rents will be capped at 30 percent of the household income.
The second proposal will allow for the creation of a housing trust fund. If a developer wants to opt out of the affordability requirement, he or she can pay a total of $172,500 for each affordable workforce housing unit that is not created. These funds can only be used in the production or preservation of affordable housing through acquisition, new construction, reconstruction and/or rehabilitation.
The Atlanta BeltLine, Inc. had set a goal of creating 5,600 units of affordable housing by 2030, but is behind in meeting that goal. It recently pledged to spend $11 million on affordable housing over the next three years.
“The BeltLine is behind in meeting that goal and every day delayed makes it harder to catch up,” Dickens wrote. “The BeltLine touches communities that are affordable today but may not be tomorrow. We need only look at the Old 4th Ward and now some areas in the West to appreciate the urgent need to act.”
Ryan Gravel, the visionary behind the Beltline, and Nathaniel Smith, the founder of the Partnership for Southern Equity, recently resigned from the Atlanta BeltLine Partnership board over the issue of affordable housing. Today they are participating together in a discussion about equitable development.
The proposals will now go through a period of public engagement through December and then go through Neighborhood Planning Unit and Zoning Review Board processes in January and February. The final step will be for them to be considered by Atlanta city council by February or March of next year.